For those who don’t already know what I’m talking about, yesterday, someone posted to Facebook that they had received a Monarch unlimited case that contained first edition Monarch boxes, but those boxes did, in fact, contain unlimited packs with unlimited cards. This sounded real bad. When someone asked me how big of a deal it was I said, if it was confirmed it would be a debacle. Well, it’s confirmed. Given the “verification” method offered by LSS, I am willing to downgrade it to “somewhat mitigated disaster,” but I think this is still a pretty big issue for the future of sealed Monarch boxes and cases. It’s worth stating that this isn’t really a mistake on LSS’s part. This is all at the manufacturing level, so you can blame Cartamundi.
What’s The Damage?
Obviously we’re in the early hours of reactions to this news, and the market certainly hasn’t fully adjusted yet, but what are the implications for case/box prices? Is LSS’s verification method good enough? I’ve not personally attempted to perform this check on a box. My unlimited product is in logistics limbo somewhere, and all my remaining first edition product is in sealed cases. However, I’ve seen some pictures, and it’s a real “you’ve got to squint” situation. Trying to do deals with these boxes via the internet is definitely a bit sketchier now.
I see a few problems with the verification method proposed by LSS. First, you are manipulating the box and attempting to punch out the cardboard without breaching the seal and the seals are already somewhat delicate. Now, this is clearly going to become a more or less mandatory part of selling a first edition box going forward, so the market will likely tolerate some slight damage to the shrink and a punched out top, but you’re going to have to be very careful. More significantly, proving a box is first edition is actually going to be harder than proving it’s unlimited. From the images I’ve seen, it’s actually somewhat difficult to see the red stripe – you can definitely do it, but it’s going to involve a bit of manipulation, and, if packs have shifted during shipping, it could be a challenge or even impossible (I’ve had boxes with rotated packs before). Proving a pack doesn’t have a red stripe is going to be tricky over the internet where the seller could easily take a picture with the pack shifted just slightly to hide the red stripe.
In particular, this makes selling boxes high risk on TCGPlayer or ebay. Because these defects are now a known issue, a buyer can very easily claim that you sent them a box of unlimited packs in a first edition box. At that point you’re at the mercy of the dispute processes, and that’s not a place where I’d recommend being. On a platform like Facebook or Discord where you have a greater ability to screen potential buyers, you can sell with a little more confidence, though again, you’re going to be jumping through hoops to prove your boxes are legit. People are absolutely going to attempt scams based on the existence of this product.
Let’s Talk Money
Even before this news, the prices of first edition Monarch still seemed to be in decline. Boxes were down to $350-370 though we were definitely seeing sales at that point. Cases were $1500 with $1600 ones sitting around uncommented on the Facebook marketplace. I think this news decreases confidence in sealed boxes and adds an extra layer of desirability to sealed cases, and this will continue to be the situation going forward. This is especially true for new investors coming into the game in the future. If you’re just getting in and trying to build a first edition Monarch position, you probably don’t want to play around with the verification process. Better to buy in at the case level and have a product you’re totally sure of. Will boxes crater? No, but could we see them drop a little more still? I think that’s possible. I would expect case prices to firm up a bit at this point and potentially establish their floor in the next week or two. After that, I assume they’ll plateau before they start their slow creep upwards (if indeed the era of wild FAB spikes every month is mostly over).
It is worth noting that, unlike the previous three sets, there are a lot of sealed cases left relative to loose sealed boxes. People were well-prepared for Monarch and the people who wanted product to hold primarily left it sealed. This reduces the overall impact of this mistake (whereas it would have been incredibly bad had it happened with, say, WTR unlimited). I expect some people to try to get MON cases back up to $2k immediately, but I think that’s a reach and the market isn’t actually going to support jumps from current prices.
We’ve got one final thing to discuss. Some rumors that LSS has stopped production of MON unlimited have cropped up. As with an increasing number of claims, this originates from some random person making an unsubstantiated claim and then the community ran with it as though it were fact. I’ve linked the LLS press release above, and, as you can see, there is no mention of halted production. This is the closest thing we have “Currently we know that mispackaged Monarch Unlimited product has been released in Australia, and is being held by our distributor in Europe.” This is not a halt to Monarch unlimited or any other FAB production, it is a temporary hold on some already produced product in one market. As ever, you should ask for citations when you encounter this sort of claim.
*Header Image – Rally the Rearguard by Peyeyo